Superman/Batman: Public Enemies (US - BD)
Marcus tags along with the super-bromance as they hit everything in sight.
The DCU returns for the third time in a year (we are so spoilt) with a return to the big guns, Superman (Tim Daly) and Batman (Kevin Conroy) in Jeph Loeb’s Public Enemies storyline.
When Earth is threatened by an approaching giant kryptonite meteor, Lex Luthor (Clancy Brown (now President of the USA)) takes his opportunity and announces to the world that Superman is losing his sanity due to the large amount of kryptonite radiation and offers up a bounty of one billion dollars for anyone who can bring in the Man of Steel. Backed up by Batman, the world’s finest heroes fight to avoid their many captors all while working out a way to save Earth from total destruction.
Public Enemies (anyone else get a kick out of Christian Bale being in a movie with the same name this year, or is that just me?) is a nice change of pace from the big origin stories and massive comic book events that the DCU have been adapting for our screens since this new direct to DVD run began. Instead, Public Enemies goes for a more typically comic book approach and just lets our heroes tussle while trying to stop the bad guys.
And what a tussle it is, pretty much from the get go Superman is getting pummelled by Metallo and while it never gets quite as dangerous as the original comic book run, the DCU continue to provide some of the most convincing and Earth shattering fights in American animation. With a few breaths taken to allow the plot to shine through, we’re back into the thick of it with villains galore turning up, heroes working for the president and doing what their told against the Big Blue and the Dark Knight.
However at the centre of all this super tussling the focus remains on the coming together of the two biggest heroes of the DC universe. It’s not quite the study of the characters that the comic book was with all the internal monologues removed and Bats and Supes feelings about each other’s methods hardly even glanced upon, but there’s still a whole lot of fun to be had with these two just hanging out.
Since the Justice League animated series (which was the first place I ever really accepted Batman working within a super team) I’ve loved the DCU approach to his and Superman’s relationship. They capture their genuine friendship without ever making it too hokey or forced and having the relationship on show here is a joy, though admittedly, the line where Superman refers to Batman as his best friend is maybe a touch too far.
Besides the two big guys, we’re given time with a few other favourite heroes. Powergirl is a fine addition and I’ll admit I got a flutter of fanboy glee with Alison Mack (of Smallville fame) providing her voice, mainly because seeing Mack still giving advice to a Superman on screen is cool. Captain Atom gets more of a spotlight as do many a cool DCU face and the return of Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, in a pretty big role is nothing but a joy (even if I don’t really go for a full on suited up Lex getting his hands dirty).
Public Enemies takes this new line of movies in a slightly different direction and this time the DCU animation team are obviously having a lot of fun with what they're adapting.
Welcome back to the broken record that is my admiration for 2D animation in high definition. For all intents and purposes Superman/Batman Public Enemies is a perfect transfer with gloriously bold colours, sharp as a needle animation and images that look fantastic in 1080p.
The only way to improve on these at this point would be to get a proper cinematic project underway and add that little extra sparkle to the overall look but that’s hopefully something for the future, for now I couldn’t be more happy with the greatness of yet another DCU title.
English Dolby Digital 5.1? What? Where’s the TrueHD Warner? After Green Lantern’s stellar effort you wouldn’t drop it off of this title would you? Oh... you did.
This isn’t so much an underwhelming track as it is an unnoticeable one. Nothing really calls attention to itself, nothing pops or feels exceptional. There’s no oomph to the many, many punches, car smashes, explosions and shows of power. There’s no gravel to Conroy’s voice or convincing swoosh to Superman’s fly-bys and while I didn’t think I’d notice a massive difference between the previous DCU TrueHD tracks and this but I really did.
While I’m a little disappointed, this basic 5.1 track still does its job, but only enough to get by and it certainly never shows off. It’s a real shame Warner ditched the TrueHD option and I can only hope it’s a mistake as opposed to the new way forward.
You know how DCU sometimes drop a feature or two on these discs that make the purchase of the release almost obligatory? Well they’ve excelled themselves here. Anyone who has spent the last eighteen years addicted to projects coming out of Bruce Timm and the team really need to get hold of this disc for the ‘Dinner with DCU With Special Guest Kevin Conroy’ (55:59, SD). This is absolute class and very much in tune with the recent Pixar round table discussions on A Bug’s Life and Monsters Inc. (but even better). Bruce Timm, Andrea Romano and Gregory Noveck are joined by Conroy for a friendly chat over dinner about all of the past projects. Stories of casting, intentions for the projects, in jokes and Conroy’s one time in an actual Bat-suit more fill the fifty five minutes and it’s an utter delight to watch and better than any commentary we could have hoped for. I really hope this is the first of many on future releases and if so I can’t wait to see who the next special guest will be.
‘A Test of Minds: The Psychology of Superman and Batman’ (19:01, SD) takes a look at the two hero's different approaches and methods and has many a DC contributor give their thoughts on what makes these two characters' relationship so captivating. Starting with the World’s Finest stories of the sixties and heading on through The Dark Knight Returns we get views on whether these characters have psychological disorders and what their individual aims are. It’s all good stuff and not to sound too nerdy but I’ve had many an evening with friends discussing many of the things covered in this featurette so this seems nicely aimed at the comic book fans out there.
'A First Look at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths' (11:12, SD) takes a look at the next DCU and gives us a whole lot more animation than we’re used to in these previews and once again we get the previews for the other DCU titles New Frontier (10:45, SD), Gotham Knight (10:11, SD) Wonder Woman (10:26, SD) and Green Lantern (10:12, SD) as well as the upcoming Halo animated feature trailer, but sadly you have to watch that on the boot up and it’s not selectable on the menus (boo).
Lastly we get our original DCU animated series episodes which this time are Question Authority, Flashpoint, Panic in the Sky, Dived We fall, The Demon Reborn and Knight Time, all of which run at about twenty two minutes as well as the ‘Blackest Night: Inside the DC Comics Event’ (08:52, SD). Oh and let’s not forget the Digital Copy as well.
Your level of enjoyment with this one is going to come down to what you’re expecting really. It’s not as effective as the comic book was but this is still a Batman/Superman story that’s out to celebrate the greatness of good old fashioned comic book adventures.
It’s not progressing the characters, it’s not adding to any sort of mythology, and it’s not looking to be an epic tale. It’s harking back to classic superhero team ups (the cool and even the silly ones) and throwing the villains at them.
In the current comic book climate that is all over the place and lacking one clear direction at the moment, it’s refreshing to have something that plays so well with the basics and it’s a nice breather before we hit the next DCU project delving into the Earth 2 stories.
* Note: The images on this page are not representative of the Blu-ray release.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13
Release Date: 29th September 2009
Disc Type: Blu-ray Disc
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Subtitles: English SDH, French
Extras: A Test of Minds Featurette, Dinner With The DCU, Sneak Peak at Justice League: Crisis on Two Earths, Behind The Scenes of Blackest Night, Six Animated Episodes, Explore The Other DCU Animated Titles, Digital Copy
Easter Egg: No
Director: Sam Liu
Cast: Kevin Conroy, Clancy Brown Tim Daly
Genre: Action, Adventure and Animation
Length: 67 minutes
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